Advertisement
Friday, Oct 22, 2021
Outlook.com

Foreign Hand | ‘I’ll Welcome You To The Club,' Said The Rocket To The Djoker

No one’s done it since the summer of ’69. Not even Federer. Now Djokovic closes in on a full Grand Slam…Rod Laver is waiting at the finishing line with a smile and a mug of beer.

Foreign Hand | ‘I’ll Welcome You To The Club,' Said The Rocket To The Djoker
Foreign Hand | ‘I’ll Welcome You To The Club,' Said The Rocket To The Djoker
outlookindia.com
2021-09-06T19:23:57+05:30

If Novak Djokovic wins the US Open to complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969, ‘Rocket’ Rod Laver will be there to welcome him into a remarkably exclusive group. “I’d be very happy to shake his hand if he can win the four Slams. I’d be happy for him to be a part of—whether it’s a ‘club’ or not, I don’t know,” Laver said with a chuckle during an interview with The Associated Press.

No man has won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same season since the slightly built, red-haired, left-handed Australian did it for the second time 52 years ago. That was so long ago that the Beatles were just about to release Abbey Road and America was still reveling in Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk. The decades have rolled along, and Laver— who also completed a true Grand Slam as an amateur in 1962—and Don Budge, who did it in 1938, remain the only men to accomplish the greatest feat in tennis.

It requires skill on a variety of surfaces now: The US Open and Australian Open are played on two types of hard courts, the French Open on red clay, Wimbledon on grass. It also requires avoiding injury. And figuring out each opponent for 28 matches spread out over about eight months. And handling each day’s particular weather. And so on. “A lot of things can go wrong,” Laver said.

As it is, Djokovic is the first man since Laver to claim a season’s first three major trophies. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, for example, never even managed to get just halfway there by winning the Australian Open and French Open in the same year. Three women have gone 4 for 4 for a true Grand Slam, most recently Steffi Graf in 1988. Serena Williams came close in 2015, winning that year’s first three majors before losing to Roberta Vinci in the US Open semifinals.

The quiet, unassuming Laver, who has lived in San Diego County for years, said he never got any special satisfaction about being the last man to win the Grand Slam. And a newcomer is welcome. “It really doesn’t worry me,” Laver said, holding a cup of beer in that powerful left hand. “When Don Budge won it in 1938, and I did it in ’62, he says: ‘We’re in a special club here. There’s only two of us in it’.” Laver, now 83, was 31 in 1969.

Djokovic is a 34-year-old from Serbia. He shares the men’s mark of 20 career major titles with Federer and Nadal, who are injured and not playing in the US Open. 

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Global Hunger Index Might Not Be Flawless But India Still Needs To Take It As Warning

Global Hunger Index Might Not Be Flawless But India Still Needs To Take It As Warning

The Centre has reacted angrily at the new Global Hunger Index, but experts say it should plug loopholes in the food delivery system.

Didi's 2-Day Goa Trip Not A 'Vacation' As TMC Pitches For 'Gonychi Navi Sakal'

Didi's 2-Day Goa Trip Not A 'Vacation' As TMC Pitches For 'Gonychi Navi Sakal'

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's visit comes as the TMC appoints former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro as a national vice president.

'Suspended' Old Trafford Test Rescheduled To July 2022

'Suspended' Old Trafford Test Rescheduled To July 2022

ECB announced that the game has been moved to Edgbaston and will be part of India's white-ball tour. The match will begin on July 1.

100 Crore Shots: How Modi Govt Scored Its Vaccination Goal In 280 Days

100 Crore Shots: How Modi Govt Scored Its Vaccination Goal In 280 Days

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the feat as 'a journey from anxiety to assurance' that has made India stronger.

Advertisement